Saturday, January 16, 2010

Meyer Lemon Bars

Hints to really great lemon bars:
  • A key to crisp crust, un-gummy next to the filling, is to put the filling into the warm crust. Be sure to follow chilling time for purposes of hydration. (This works for pumpkin pie, too.)
  • Bars can be made ahead, but begin to loose their lemony goodness after 1 day and the crust does soften somewhat.
  • Sifted confectioners' sugar on the finished bars is troublesome and showy on the dark clothes of diners. Plus, it always seems to disappear into the bars after a little while.
  • Using a kitchen scale saves time and dishes and it's more accurate, anyway.
With appreciation to Susan Logozzo for her May 1998 article in Cook's Illustrated. I reduced her sugar amount slightly to compensate for the Meyer lemons' sweetness.

Meyer Lemon Bars
Yield: two dozen 1.5- to 2-inch squares

The Crust
14 oz all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups)
2.5 oz confectioners' sugar (2/3 cup)
1 oz cornstarch (1/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 oz unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), frozen and grated, plus additional for greasing pan

The Filling
4 large eggs
9 1/4 oz granulated sugar (1 1/4 cups)
3/4 oz flour (3 Tablespoons)
finely grated zest from 4 Meyer lemons (1 - 2 Tablespoons)
5 oz strained Mayer lemon juice (2/3 cup)
2 1/2 oz whole milk (1/3 cup)
1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. For the crust: Lightly butter 13-by-9-inch baking dish and line with one sheet parchment or wax paper lengthwise in pan. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over the first.
  2. Mix flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Toss frozen butter to coat. Rub pieces between fingers until flour turns pale yellow and coarse. Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and use fingers to press into 1/4-inch layer over bottom, reaching about 1/2-inch up pan sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  3. For the filling: Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon juice, milk, zest, and salt. Blend well.
  4. To finish: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Sitr filling mixture to reblend, then pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack. Cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Grasp edges of the cross-wise paper and lift bars onto cutting board. Fold paper down and off edges. Cut serving size bars using knife or pizza cutter, wiping clean between cuts, as necessary.

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